Monday, November 14, 2011

kitchen reno

Okay, so it's time for me to do the update on the massive kitchen make-over. Just to address the major question that crops up from family and friends: yes, we rent and yes, we paid for all of this. But compared with the cost of moving to a place with a kitchen this nice, we've made our money back in ~two years AND we still get to take it with us when we move out (a major point in a city where apartments normally don't have kitchens installed). Anyway, the improvement in living quality makes it well worth while regardless.

Unfortunately, we didn't go with my initial colour scheme wish because it would've been a) too expensive and b) too expensive. Instead, we stuck with IKEA basics for the cabinets. However, we still wanted it to have SOME colour in it, we just couldn't decide what. So, eight months pregnant, standing tired in IKEA at 9pm I suggested we take an option they had on display and use their blue glass cabinet fronts and paint the walls a matching blue. Wow, did that decision make things easier.

But we still had new floor laid, had an electrician in to run new wiring around the room and had to work out the nitty gritty of what would fit where. And when Roxie came early and IKEA delivered late, we wound up spending a fortnight cooking in our hallway.

We called that Fun Times With Newborns or How I Learned to Stop Nesting And Start Wishing This Shit Would Just Be Finished Already.

However now it's MOSTLY done. We've still got to build the table and bench, but the rest has now been in place for a month and still looking pretty. So here you go, some before and after videos complete with scintillating commentary:

Monday, September 12, 2011

and then there were three

She's here, a week old and currently knocked out on milk and breathing heavily into my ear. We did't call her Roxie after all, but for the purposes of blogging I think I'll stick with that pseudonym.

In the end, the whole story ran faster than thought. We knew she was a little baby, and figured she'd probably be late but two weeks ago my doctor determined that the placenta was not doing the expected sterling service and I shouldn't be allowed to go past my due date.

OK. Strike two weeks off our calendar - the kitchen renovation probably won't get finished and maybe we should consider buying a pram.

Three days later, the hospital checked it all out and decided that it should all be a bit earlier even than that. Like the following morning, or latest the morning after.

Right. Dog sitter organised, work informed, bag packed. I even shaved my legs. I mean, I should show some effort in getting prepared for such a big event, right?

The whole labour went way faster than anyone anticipated. Midwives examined me and determined I was at least eight hours away from anything interesting happening. Which explains why, two hours later when I was begging for an epidural and saying I was already getting pushing contractions, they told us to go for a walk and come back in an hour. They were also having the busiest day of the year - lots of babies, lots of emergencies - and I was, apparently, using the wrong word when describing pushing.

Note to expats: in this situation don't use "Druck", use instead "Press". It can be tough trying to use correct vocabulary and grammar in a second language when suffering the worst pain of your life, but it might help get you some drugs.

Anyway, forty minutes later - after trying to walk around outside as suggested; DrH finally making it clear that we were in a serious state; them finally getting me a delivery room; and me having to walk there - she was born. Roughly thirty seconds after entering said delivery room and therefore only thirty seconds away from having been born in the hallway.

To be honest, I was in shock. It went so fast, I wasn't taken seriously, had had no pain medication and - the worst thing - in the delivery room I finally got to see the hot tub that everyone had been talking about. The one that I never got to enjoy. Because, you know, they all though I was a whinging expat.

Ok, now I am whinging a bit. They were ridiculously busy and I was was ridiculously fast. But still - A HOT TUB.

As all the wards were full up, we decided to go home the next day and, sixteen hours old, Roxie enjoyed her first Berlin taxi experience. Now she's a week old, we're getting the hang of things and slowly getting to know her. Well, as much as you can when the primary interaction is her making squawking baby bird faces and then falling unconscious.

But we've got time now. Time to start building a family, loving each other and, of course, screwing our daughter up. DrH and I have already began putting together a medley of songs we will sing in the car, in public and around her friends so that the tween Roxie gets the chance to be just as embarrassed by her parents as every other kid is.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

well sated stars

Ok, I admit DrH and I have a pretty comfortabe lifestyle. We're, at least for the next few weeks, double-income-no-kids in one of the cheapest European capitals. Living costs are low (unbelievably low compared to über-expensive Australia these days) and it means we can afford to go out and spoil ourselves occasionally. So that, combined with my birthday and a reward DrH received recently, meant we spent Friday night in a Michelin star restaurant.

Admittedly, a wine bar is probably not the logical choice for a pregnant woman, but Rutz Weinbar is, according to the Michelin guide at least, not a bad place to grab a bite. We've eaten downstairs there once or twice, where the prices are cheaper and the food a tad simpler, but this time we chose the upstairs experience complete with Inspirations, Experiences and a sommelier called Billy.

The menu by chef Marco Müller is divided into Inspirations - which could be a product, place or feeling and we decided to go all out on 4 inspirations, figuring it'll be three courses and a dessert. And we all know how small the courses in top restaurants are. DrH even chose to have the accompanying wines, while I got a series of fruit juices.

What we failed to take into account - although we had understood it, we just failed to think it through - was that each Inspiration has two versions (Experiences) of it and we got both of those. And DrH had two different wines. Which means instead of three courses and a dessert, we had six courses and two desserts. And DrH had eight wines. And then came several different "greetings from the kitchen" which came to eleven courses in all.

Even with small, delicate, delicious servings, this was a little too much for my super-squashed stomach and the four-hour meal lasted till well past my current bedtime. I even had to turn down several of the petit fours.

But, gosh, was it an incredible meal. And the next time we can afford to blow half a months rent on a single meal I'll be doing it again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

loving interactions

Me: Hey, you're not supposed to pick on your wife when she's pregnant.

DrH: That's exactly when I'm meant to pick on her because she can't run as fast.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

no this is not nesting

I've been planning on redoing the kitchen for years. Pretty much, since we moved in here. In Berlin, kitchens in rentals generally come with an oven/stove, a sink and maybe some kind of bench arrangement.

That's it. You rarely have cupboards, or shelves or any kind of inbuilt furniture.

So when we moved in we did it the cheap-arse student-styled way and threw some IKEA shelving up, stuck a freestanding sideboad in there and an old 1930s cupboard that my brother-in-law was going to throw out. Our kitchen is also our laundry, containing the washing machine and a clothes drying rack that we have to manouvre carefully around to get to the sink.

Also our kitchen is tiny, almost triangular, has a curved wall and a servants entrance. It's kooky, kinda cute and highly impractical.

So I've been planning on redoing it for a few years, but now that I'm actually sitting down with it, I'm stumped.

First off - the curved wall. It's, well, curved. It's a quarter circle surrounding the external servants stairwell and it has a door in it. Now, if it came with a servant I wouldn't mind so much, but it doesn't and I'm left with trying to sort out cabinetry there.

Next, the water connection where I have to attach the dishwasher and washing machine is in an awkward spot on the other wall from where I'd like it.

Thirdly, there is one tiny window and no space to put a table. And I'd REALLY like a table in the kitchen because we have an incredibly long hallway and it's quite a trek to the dining table with your tea and toast when you're still half asleep. And having to dodge dog beds and dog and his tennis balls and any books I may have accidentally-sort-of-forgotten to put back in the shelves the previous night.

So, finally, I started with the most important bit which was determining the colour scheme. To this purpose I've dived back again into ColourLovers and have gotten entirely lost in it. What do you think of this colour scheme? Or this one? This?

GAH! How am I meant to go about redesigning an entire kitchen if I can't even decide on a single colour scheme I prefer?!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

home alone

DrH departed this morning for a week of getting down and dirty in New Orleans with a bunch of other scientists. They're totally going to set the place on fire. I mean, I saw the jackets he packed and there ain't no pin stripe in there. There's a bit of check, but no pin stripe. No siree, it's going to be PAR-TY for the geeks in Louisiana this week.

What that means is that I get free reign here for a week and, boy, am I going to put that to good use. Just look at me start today... I slept late, baked scones and finished two novels. I've a bit of derby tonight, but then tomorrow I'm planning on embroidery, cups of tea and cleaning the front hall.

I'm telling you, if my twenty-three year old self could only look at the life I'm living.... well, I'm sure she'd roll her eyes in disgust. At somepoint in the last ten years or so it seems I've become middle aged.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


After my wonderful discovery while Down Under that osteopathy does more for fixing up my neck than orthopaedie, physiotherapie and chiropractie (I'm going for the -ie thing here) do, I hunted out one near here. A few weeks ago an osteo listened to my tale of woe, pushed some fingers into my buttcheeks to straighten my hips; poked around my neck; wiggled fingers at the top of my head and on my lower spine; and massaged out an apparently sticky kidney.

For a fortnight, I had no headache.

To most people who are, I assume, normal, I probably need to emphasise that. I HAD NO HEADACHE. Not one. Not a scrap of tension in my neck or head. No pain in my eyes. No clenched jaw. I had the ability to concentrate on something for longer than thirty seven seconds.

I stopped wanting to smash my head through a wall to try and relieve the pain.

I can't believe most of the world manages to get up every morning, go through their day, and go to bed WITHOUT a headache. The idea was preposterous. Ridiculous! No pain? No, that can't be!

But the last two weeks I lived like that and it was heaven. I cannot believe how easy it is to do basic tasks when your frontal lobe isn't trying tunnel its way out through your forehead. With a very blunt spoon.

However, last weekend we were away and that was enough to cause me to screw it all up while asleep. For the last two days, my old enemy has been keeping me company again. So tomorrow lunch I have an appointment with a woman to stick her fingers in my buttcheeks, wiggle around my neck and massage my sticky kidney. I want to feel that no-pain high.